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4 Holistic Health Practices to Try

Getting started on a holistic health regimen is easy with these four classic routines recommended by green living guru Deirdre Imus in her book The Essential Green You!

In addition to my daily regimen of vitamins and supplements, I rely on several different alternative therapies to maintain my health. Here’s a quick primer to get you started in the world of holistic health care, with resources if you’d like to learn more. Remember that before beginning any alternative treatment, it is important to consult your doctor (or other health-care professional) and to find a reputable, trained, licensed practitioner.

  • Acupuncture. This procedure, where a healer stimulates pressure points on your body with very thin needles (or sometimes her hands), originated in China more than two thousand years ago. It’s used to treat everything from obesity to infertility, and studies have demonstrated that acupuncture can help osteoarthritis as well as soothe pain and nausea following dental operations and chemotherapy. Preliminary research also suggests that it can play a useful role in the treatment of headaches, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, asthma, menstrual cramps, fibromyalgia, addiction, and in stroke rehabilitation. To Learn More: Visit the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture at www.medicalacupuncture.org
  • Homeopathy. This alternative medicine system is based on the theory that you can prevent or treat an illness by stimulating your body’s defenses with very small doses of homeopathic remedies made from a wide array of herbs, essential oils, and floral essences. I swear by homeopathy and frequently use Young Living essential oils and Bach Flower Essences to stay healthy. I’ve found homeopathic remedies can work on simple complaints like indigestion and menstrual cramps and also on more serious issues, like keeping your hormones balanced, which is so important given the daily onslaught of hormone disrupting chemicals we face in our environment. To Learn More: Visit the North American Society of Homeopaths at www.homeopathy.org; Bach Flower Essences are available at www.bachflower.com; Young Living essential oils are available at youngliving.us.
  • Massage Therapy. There are more than eighty different kinds of massage therapies, ranging from Swedish to deep tissue to shiatsu, and which one you try is a matter of personal preference. They are all wonderful for reducing your stress level and maintaining your general sense of well-being. “Much of the information we need to heal is locked in our muscles and other body parts,” writes Christiane Northrup, MD, in her book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing. “Getting a good massage will often release old energy blockages and help us cry or get rid of chronic pain from ‘holding the world on our shoulders.’ To Learn More: Visit the American Massage Therapy Association at amtamassage.org.
  • Reiki. This ancient Japanese practice is based on the belief that our bodies contain ki, or life-force energy fields. A Reiki master places his or her hands on or near your body in order to transmit ki and improve the flow and balance of your energy fields. Reiki is used to treat stress and chronic pain and improve your immune system and sense of mental well-being. At the Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology, we also use Reiki to help patients recovering from surgery and chemotherapy. Some Reiki masters use crystals and other gemstones to neutralize negative energy; I keep pieces of malachite around my computer to protect me from the potentially dangerous electromagnetic fields it produces and sometimes carry aquamarine stones to give me more energy. To Learn More: Visit the International Association of Reiki Professionals at www.iarp.org.

A Word about Exercise
If you really want to look and feel young and healthy, forget popping pills and try going for a walk. It has always been my personal belief that exercise truly is the root of good health. So often I meet women who think all they have to do is diet, diet, diet, and the truth is, you’ll never get the body you want or improve your health if you don’t exercise as well.

Let me first clarify that when I say “the body you want,” I don’t mean becoming super skinny. That’s not healthy or sustainable! Being fit is about a lot more than a number on scale. Besides the physical benefits, you’ll find that exercise also has the power to boost your immune system and improve your mental well-being.

So what kind of exercise should you be doing? Always consult a doctor first, because it will depend on your age and current fitness level. But the Centers for Disease Control recommends that all adults get a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (like walking) on most days, or 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (like running) on at least 3 days per week, as well as two days of strength training (involving 6 to 8 exercises, with 8 to 12 repetitions of each move).

Even with our increasingly busy lives, I think most of us can find 20 or 30 minutes a day to exercise — and once you start, you might find you want to do more! You should do anything that seems fun for you, whether that’s walking, running, cycling, yoga, or Pilates — if you enjoy exercise, you’ll find it much easier to stick with.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Deirdre Imus, author of The Essential Green You: Easy Ways to Detox Your Diet, Your Body, and Your Life (Copyright © 2009 by Git’R Green, Inc.), is the founder and president of Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology®, part of Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) in New Jersey. She is also a co-founder and co-director of the Imus Castle Ranch for Kids with Cancer, and the author of the bestselling book The Imus Ranch: Cooking for Kids and Cowboys.

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